Lenders reining in credit availability warns BoE

Credit 'crunch' on the way
Credit 'crunch' on the way

Households could face a tougher time getting credit during 2018, a Bank of England survey of lenders suggests.

The availability of non-mortgage credit to households was reported by banks and building societies to have decreased across all four quarters of 2017, the Bank’s Credit Conditions Survey for the fourth quarter of last year found.

Lenders also expect a further significant decrease in the first quarter of 2018, the report said.

Lenders also said they had tightened their credit-scoring criteria for loan applications towards the end of 2017, the survey carried out between November 20 and December 8 found.

Lenders expect to tighten credit-scoring criteria significantly further in the first quarter of 2018 as demand for credit card lending broadly held up in the final months of 2017.

But demand for other types of non-mortgage lending had fallen significantly, the first material fall seen in two years.

There was also a big increase in demand for re-mortgaging towards the end of 2017, coinciding with the hike in the Bank of England base rate from 0.25% to 0.5%.

The report said the findings suggest it was the biggest quarterly change since there were falls reported for this type of lending in early 2009.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said the latest findings would be “good news” for the Bank of England, following recent concerns about levels of growth in credit.

“It may well be that heightened uncertainties over the outlook and increased concerns over personal finances are encouraging some consumers to be more cautious in their borrowing.

“However, the persistent squeeze on consumer purchasing power is likely continuing to fuel the need for some consumers to borrow.”